Wednesday, October 31, 2012

At St. Luke’s, pretend shooter wreaks havoc

Hospital, emergency personnel hold drill to practice response

Express Staff Writer

Blaine County Sheriff’s Deputy Kristen Quinton detains “shooter” Koree Hawkes, a St. Luke’s human resources assistant, during a full-scale training exercise at St. Luke’s Wood River on Thursday, Oct. 25. Photo by David N. Seelig

Emergency procedures during a training exercise involving a pretend “shooter” at St. Luke’s Wood River on Thursday worked just as they were supposed to, a St. Luke’s official said.

The exercise was hosted by St. Luke’s and the Blaine County Department of Emergency Services. Other agencies involved included local police and fire departments, the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office, Idaho State Police, the U.S. Forest Service and the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security.

“Unfortunately, it’s not unrealistic to prepare for an active shooter at the hospital in the world we live in,” said JoDee Alverson, a St. Luke’s Wood River safety officer. “We wanted to prepare for the possibility of an active shooter.”

Alverson said the nearly three-hour drill involved a “disgruntled” hospital employee, played by St. Luke’s Human ResourcesHR Assistant Koree Hawkes, who finally “snapped” and decided to go on a “shooting spree” through the hospital. Visibly marked, unloaded weapons were employed.

“The shooter was caught in the end,” Alverson said. “Of course she was. Her part was only about 15 minutes, but law enforcement officers took about two hours to sweep the facility before they called ‘all clear.’”

Alverson said law enforcement officers quickly located Hawkes in the emergency building and “took her out.”

“The shooter had barricaded herself in the employee lounge,” Alverson said. “She poked her head out for a moment to ‘shoot’ at the officers and that’s when they ‘shot’ her in the head.”

Alverson said Hawkes managed to ‘shoot’ eight people, including two officers, before she was neutralized. However, all eight of Hawkes’ victims survived.

Alverson said the goals of St. Luke’s Wood River and Blaine County Department of Emergency Services were accomplished.

“We recognized that there was good cooperation between the agencies,” she said. “The hospital staff was able to hide and find safety when necessary. Our CEO, Cody Langbehn, seamlessly assumed incident command. From the hospital’s perspective, it was a success—our employees did exactly what they were supposed to do.”

Alverson said a few particularly interesting moments arose when law enforcement officers encountered hospital employees who were not “in play,” but actually at work, as the hospital was open for business during the drill.

“Some of our on-duty staff members forgot to carry their ‘not in play’ signs with them,” she said.

She said law enforcement officers detained these staff members, told them to get on the ground and had to verify that they were actually hospital employees before they were let go. She said this was because the officers did not know if the drill involved more than one shooter.

“That’s what they get for not carrying their signs,” she said.

Brennan Rego:

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